Triplet Opals. These are a partially fabricated gemstone, consisting of a fine sliver of light opal (usually 0.5mm thick), adhered to a dark backing (Vitrolite – a blackened industrial glass), and with a clear synthetic capping.
They are created to give the appearance of rare Black Opals, at a fraction of a cost. To most people, it can be difficult to tell the two apart.
But take a look from the side, and you can start to see the differences, particularly with Vitrolite showing underneath, compared to the natural black potch (common opal) which is naturally part of solid Black Opal
And taking even a closer look, you can ‘see’ through the top of the Triplet from the side. With solid natural Black Opal, you cannot.
So, basically, a Triplet is like an Opal Sandwich.
Extra care needs to be taken to ensure the longevity of Triplet Opals.
Where solid natural Black Opal (and Boulder, Crystal and White Opal too) is non-porous and will be perfectly fine to get wet regularly, Triplet Opals, due to being 3 separate pieces adhered together, should not be frequently immersed in moisture.
Frequent immersion in moisture will eventually cause separation of the layers due to the adhesive holding the layers together breaking down from moisture exposure. This leads to ‘cloudiness’ and cannot be reversed.
Because of this, we highly recommend NOT using Triplet Opals for everyday wear items such as engagement rings etc.
Triplet Opals are a great alternative to gem-grade Black Opals if you are restricted by budget (Triplet Opals will generally be a 10th of the value of Black Opal of the same colour/pattern/brightness configuration), but please do take care of them.